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Charles V. Carr: The Man and the Legend

November 5, 2008

He was known as “The Dean” of city council.  During his almost 40 years as a Cleveland Councilman, Carr had seen many Mayors come and go and political figures retire and become extinct.

There was hardly a democratic and even some republican politicians that he did not help to win public office during his active political career.  At all levels of government, candidates would vie for his support in seeking public office.  City, county, state and federal office seekers came to him for his support in gaining votes, finances and direction in making their campaigns successful.

Throughout his career, Carr had been concerned about one thing, his people.  He had been held in high esteem by all who knew him.  Once in a newspaper article, George Forbes, former Cleveland City Council President revealed that in his early days in council, it was Carr he had to rely on to keep city council in hand.

Charles Car was a democrat when it was unpopular to be a democrat.  His efforts and loyalty to the democratic party resulted in his being labeled  as a left winger since at the time Black people were still embracing the party of Lincoln.  By the early 1960’s he was named the majority leader.  Charles Carr had become like a roman gladiator in the field of politics.  He was a notable name in the Kennedy administration, which had considered him for an ambassador’s slot.

Think also of the good he did for the Black community as President and Chief Executive Officer of the old Quincy Savings and Loan Association.  As such, he saw to it that Black homeowners were able to obtain mortgages that they had heretofore been denied.  The many Black churches he helped save by providing them with the funds for building, they so desperately needed and were unable to obtain otherwise.

He obtained scholarships and grants for many young people and assisted others in the rehabilitation they needed who had criminal records.

As a major stockholder and Chief legal council for Supreme Life Insurance Company he saw to it that his company’s money assisted the Black community on a regional scale.  He provided protection and funds to Blacks that were not obtainable elsewhere.

While serving on the Board of the Regional Transit Authority, Carr saw to it that minority contractors be given a fair share of the regional contracts.  Some of those contracts exceeded 20% to minorities.

It was Charles V. Carr who almost single handedly stopped the Cleveland Police Department from running wild in the Black community by inappropriately frisking women and breaking into homes without warrants for search and seizure.

It was Charles V. Carr who walked the picket lines with some of the better white community leaders insisting that Blacks get jobs in the Woodland Market, the Quincy Movie Theater, The Ohio Bell telephone Company and the East Ohio Gas Company.

Charles Carr withstood the test of his times and repeatedly rose victorious against countless opponents.  For his efforts and example, he had streets and buildings named after him, and sat on the board of many major corporations.

“Charlie” Carr, a name he never liked but tolerated as being politically expedient, was a highly skilled parlimentarian.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer even acknowledged that, “He knows all the players and comes up with the decisions that will work, he’s the Old Fox, there’s no one better.”

Ohio State Supreme Court Judge Lloyd O. Brown said, “It can truly be said that he beat the odds in his climb to the top.  Many of us can identify with the handicaps caused to one with black skin.  However, not too many persons did or could have climbed to the heights this man did.  Charles Carr, who has walked with kings and yet had been a servant to even the poorest of people, was a councilman for over 30 years.  His major weapon was his mind and his dedication to serving Black people.  As a lawyer and a master politician he has beaten the greatest of odds.”

A sometimes controversial figure, Charles V. Carr had always been able to change with the times.  His life, his struggles, his cause, his commitment can give us all hope, added dimension, better insight and higher goals to achieve.  Believe it or not, there is much more to this great mans public, religious and private life.  I have only highlighted some of my proudest moments here.   Let us honor Charles V. Carr, the man and the legend.

Published by Mirror Mirror Production